Fifth Sunday After Epiphany

Glow of Hope by S. L. Haldankar — watercolor, 1945-46. On display in the Jayachamrajendra Art Gallery at Jaganmohan Palace of South India.

February 5, 2022 Lectionary Texts — Year A
Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12) • Psalm 112:1-9 (10) • 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16) • Matthew 5:13-20

View Lectionary

Image description: Rendered in great detail, a young Indian woman dressed in a traditional sari holds a lit candle with a tall brass candlestick in her left hand while protecting the flame with her right hand. The flame, not visible to the viewer, illuminates the woman’s face and beautiful clothing. The fingers of the hand protecting the flame glow. A large dark shadow is cast by the woman’s figure towering over her on the wall behind.

If you make sure that the hungry and oppressed have all that they need, then your light will shine in the darkness, and even your bleakest moments will be bright as a clear day. — Isaiah 58:10

When life is dark, a light will shine for those who live rightly — those who are merciful, compassionate, and strive for justice. — Psalm 112:4

But we do impart God’s mysterious and hidden wisdom. Before the ages began, God graciously decided to use His wisdom for our glory. This wisdom has not been grasped by the ruling powers of this age; if they had understood, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as the Scriptures say,
No eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard
and it has never occurred to the human heart
All the things God prepared for those who love Him.
God has shown us these profound and startling realities through His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep mysteries of God. Who can see into a man’s heart and know his thoughts? Only the spirit that dwells within the man. In the same way, the thoughts of God are known only by His Spirit.
— 1 Corinthians 2:7-11

And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illumines the entire house. You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it. — Matthew 5:14-16

One of the most treasured artworks of modern-day India, Glow of Hope, can be viewed in a unique space at the Jayachamrajendra Art Gallery. I read how the room in which it is displayed is designed to enhance various aspects of the piece. It can be viewed three ways: in very dim light allowing the maximum effect of the art’s luminous candle glow effect, with brighter lighting to reveal it’s exquisite detail, and by natural light from a nearby curtained window which discloses the subtleties of coloration and further detail.

The piece is quite popular, copies and renderings by other artists are widely available for sale. Gita, the artist’s daughter who posed for the picture had also gained public notoriety especially at the celebration of her 100th birthday, on February 2, 2017. She passed away in 2018.

It was during Diwali, the Indian celebration symbolizing the victory of light over darkness, that Haldankar was instantly inspired to paint the picture when his daughter emerged from the house carrying a candle and protecting the flame with her hand.

Practicing Visio Divina:

  1. View the artwork
    What do you see?

    Note shapes – color – style – movement
    What stands out for you?
    What are you curious about?
    What questions do you have?
    Hold back any feelings – judgments – opinions
  2. Read the accompanying scripture and look over the artwork again
    What connections do you make?

    Between the image and text?
    What is coming to mind from your own experience?
    What feelings are rising in you?
    Are you uncomfortable with something?
    There are no right or wrong answers
  3. Read the scripture again and explore the artwork a third time
    What do you hear?

    What is God saying to you?
    What do you wish to speak to God?
    What blessing or prayer is rising in you?

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